A letter to my niece

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Tomorrow belongs to my niece.

I can only wonder what those doey eyes and caterpillar-curled fists will see and touch in the years to come.

How she will feel tasting the figs, apples, pears and strawberries that riot through the greens of my grandfather’s garden.

How she will anticipate the seasons from withering leaves and fleeting sunsets; the first peeks of peas and the crumbling upwards of basil and mint from soil made rich from years of patient hands and perseverant hearts.

How she will learn the turning shade of each fruit and vegetable, and the perfect time to pluck them stealthily off their perches before the birds and critter-creatures do.

How she will prepare for the neighbourhood children’s war cries with pomegranate stains streaked across her face and hands, white tops and best pants. How she will hide from her mum for as long as possible when this happens.

How she will wait all year for Eid-al-Adha, just to go to the souk with her mum and dad to illuminate her skies and streets with the crackle and coloured smoke of the year’s best fireworks.

Tomorrow belongs to my niece.

And though I do worry about the tomorrows

when her ears will first hear the sounds of bullets,
when her eyes will first see on TV the dead and the dying,
when the realities of being Lebanese will no longer just be ‘life’ but something to escape from;
when those conflicts will metastasise and drive her to seek a reality elsewhere, just like her mother and aunts….

those tomorrows mushroom cloud my fears and take me too far from her present presence.

For now, I can only watch her curious eyes burst with excitement from behind my phone’s screen, hear her cry and laugh through skyped conversations and voice messages. Each tomorrow is bringing new discoveries of hands and hearts that long to love her, long for her to call them by name.

Tomorrow brings me one step closer to meeting my beautiful niece face to face, to hold and kiss her way into my heart, just like her face has already done.

x

Farah

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